Are You Sensitive to EMFs?
By Michael R Neuert, MA, BSME, ©2023
Background Info About Electromagnetic Sensitivity
As an EMF consultant, I have worked with thousands of individuals reporting serious health problems and sensitivities related to electromagnetic fields (EMFs). The information presented here is based on my 30 years of professional anecdotal experience with EMF-sensitive clients, since 1992.*
1) Symptoms of Electromagnetic Sensitivity
A variety of symptoms are reported by people with health issues related to EMFs. Common symptoms include sleep problems, headaches, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, anxiety, irritability, “brain fog” including difficulties concentrating and memory problems, feeling electrically shocked, itchy or burning skin, uncomfortable sensations of inflammation, heat or pressure inside the head, body or nerves, muscle weakness, tinnitus and other mysterious sound phenomena, increased heart rate, changes in blood pressure, heart arrhythmias, seizures, weak immunity, and much more.*
2) Who is Electrosensitive?
From the studies so far, it is estimated that somewhere between 2% to 5% of the population will report serious health issues related to Electromagnetic Sensitivity. This condition is sometimes also referred to as “Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity” (EHS), “Electrosensitivity”, and similar terms*. In addition, it appears that a larger percentage of the population may also be adversely affected by EMFs, but are generally unaware of EMFs as a potential contributor to their health issues.*
3) How Do You Know If You Are Sensitive to EMFs?
If you tend to feel better when you are out in nature and away from EMFs, or during a power outage, or when you turn off or get away from certain EMF sources, then you may be sensitive to electromagnetic fields. If you experience any adverse symptoms near cell towers, cell phones, computers, Wi-Fi routers, LED or fluorescent lights, power lines, smart meters, electrical wiring or any other electrical devices, you are probably sensitive to EMFs.*
4) Confirmation of Electromagnetic Sensitivity
If your symptoms can be relieved by turning off or getting farther away from an EMF source, then you may be sensitive to EMFs. And generally, your EMF sensitivity is confirmed if your symptoms return again after the EMF exposure is reintroduced. Actually, the best way to test for EMF sensitivity is to spend several consecutive days in an EMF-free environment – preferably a couple days camping in nature, or turning off all the electricity and wireless devices in your home for several days. If your symptoms decrease, but then return again when the EMFs are reintroduced, EMF sensitivity is strongly indicated.*
5) Why Does it Take Several Days to Check for EMF Sensitivity?
For most sensitive people, once the exposure to EMFs has stopped, it can take a significant amount of time before their nervous system recovers and the symptoms actually decrease. For young healthy people this may only take a few hours, or a day. For older people with chronic health issues, this may take several days, and sometimes a week or more. Therefore, for an accurate test to determine EMF sensitivity, a significant amount of time must be spent away from the EMFs to allow the adverse symptoms to dissipate.*
6) What is the Cause of EMF Sensitivity?
Looking back, many people can point to one particular EMF exposure that was the “straw that broke the camel’s back” for their health. This might have been when they got a new wireless router, cell phone, or smart meter. Or it might have been from living in a home with strong magnetic fields from power lines, or sleeping in high electric fields from wiring. But generally, most individuals begin to understand that their sensitivity probably developed from years of cumulative long-term exposure to a variety of EMF sources – combined with other life challenges including chronic illness and emotional stress. At some point, a threshold or “tipping point” occurred, in which their body could no longer handle the high EMF loads, and their sensitivity suddenly increased.*
7) What Kind of Person is Likely to Become EMF Sensitive?
While sensitivity can happen to anyone, it is much more likely to occur in people who already have highly reactive nervous systems. These are the “highly sensitive persons” (HSP’s, or about 20% of the population) who react much more strongly to everything – foods, pesticides, chemicals, air pollution, cigarette smoke, heat and cold, sounds, vibrations, and even the emotions of others — as well as those with a chronic illness, autoimmune disease, Lyme disease, chemical sensitivity, chronic fatigue or other health challenges.*
8) EMF Sensitivity Varies Greatly
One person may be strongly affected by the magnetic fields from a nearby power line, while another may have serious sleep issues from the electric fields emitted by the wiring in their bedroom. Yet another may experience severe headaches and nausea from the radio frequency fields emitted by a nearby cell tower, wireless router or smart meter. In other words, the reported symptoms and sensitivities vary greatly from one person to another. And even for the same individual, their own EMF sensitivity can vary greatly from time to time, perhaps also being influenced by other important life factors including poor diet, lack of sleep, emotional stress, aging and illness.*
9) Which EMFs Are the Most Troublesome?
While one particular source (or type) of EMF may appear to be the biggest problem for a certain individual, most people will discover that they are actually sensitive to many other kinds of EMFs as well. In fact, most sensitized individuals will ultimately come to realize that what they are really sensitive to, is the “total” EMF exposure load from all of the different sources combined! In other words, one particular EMF source may provide the tipping point, but only because other EMFs have already caused a significant stress load to the body. Typically, sensitive people will find that the most effective way to reduce their troublesome symptoms, is to reduce all of their EMF exposures as much as possible — including the various sources of magnetic fields, electric fields, and radio frequency fields.*
10) What is a Safe Level of Magnetic Fields?
People often report being sensitive to relatively low exposure levels. A typical client of mine might appear to have symptoms from ELF magnetic fields as low as only 0.2 or 0.3 milligauss (mG). Since the average home is usually around 0.5 to 1.0 milligauss, sensitive individuals will often need to reduce their exposures down to levels that are significantly lower than the “normal” level – probably down to 0.1 mG or less. (Sensitive people also need to avoid the higher frequency “VLF” magnetic fields from computers, televisions, power converters, fluorescent lights, LEDs and other electronics – typically down to levels of 0.01 mG or less.)*
11) What is a Safe Level of Radio Frequency Fields?
Many people also report health effects from relatively low levels of radio frequency (RF) fields. The worst symptoms are usually from the pulsed digital microwaves emitted by modern wireless devices such as cell towers, cell phones, smart meters, Wi-Fi routers, wireless computers, and more. To reduce symptoms, sensitive individuals usually need to reduce RF exposures down to at least 1.0 microwatt per meter squared (this is equivalent to 0.0001 microwatt per centimeter squared). With the increased use of complex digital technologies such as 4G/LTE and 5G, many sensitive people find that they need to reduce their RF exposures even further – down to 0.1 microwatt per meter squared or less. Unfortunately, with the recent explosion of new wireless technologies in everything from refrigerators to baby cribs to photovoltaic solar systems, achieving these low RF exposure levels is becoming more and more challenging.*
12) What is a Safe Level of Electric Fields?
It is important to note that reducing the ELF electric fields is especially important for highly sensitive individuals. The human body is a very effective natural antenna for picking up electric fields, and so this is the type of EMF that is easiest for our bodies to sense, feel, and perhaps be affected by. Electric fields are also the main way that dirty electricity signals in the wiring system are transported out to our bodies. Using the body voltage test method, sensitive people usually need to reduce their electric fields significantly – down to levels around 0.1 volt AC (100 millivolts) or less. Because the average level in homes is usually between 0.5 to 2.0 volts AC (500 to 2000 millivolts), sensitive people often need to reduce their exposures to levels that are well below the “normal” home.*
13) And What about Dirty Electricity?
In my opinion, dirty electricity (DE) is a big health concern. But sometimes, the technologies used to reduce dirty electricity can be quite harmful for the highly sensitive person. For example, although standard DE filters can “clean up” the voltage frequencies on the wiring system so that the electric fields are less “dirty”, those same DE filters can also create new and “dirty” magnetic fields that are very troublesome for sensitive people. Generally, a much more successful approach for highly sensitive individuals is to focus on reducing the electric fields that actually transport the DE signals from the wiring to the body. (Test this with an earth-grounded body voltage meter.) By reducing the electric fields, a person’s exposure to both the DE and the electric fields can be reduced – and with substantially less negative side effects. (Note: under certain conditions, shielding strategies can also have negative impacts for sensitive people.)*
14) General Advice to Relieve Symptoms of EMF Sensitivity
For most sensitive people, it is critical to reduce all of the various sources of EMFs, as much as possible. In general, the first step is to (a) completely remove all wireless devices, (b) unplug all unneeded electrical cords and equipment, and (c) shut off electrical circuits near the bedroom at night. The next step is to actually measure the EMFs with test meters, because it is very difficult to know and predict all of the possible sources. Without testing, many people do not realize that their refrigerator, TV, printer or other device is emitting Wi-Fi. Or that a wiring error is creating strong magnetic fields. Or that hidden wires from circuits not related to the bedroom are causing high body voltages during sleep. In my experience, more than half of our clients who are absolutely sure that they have eliminated all of their wireless devices, have not! Using a test meter is necessary, and recommended.*
15) What is the Most Important Location to Avoid EMFs?
Many experts feel that the most important place to reduce EMFs is the bedroom. Sleep is a crucial time for the health, repair and rejuvenation of our sensitive bodies. It is also a critical time for the proper operation of our immune functions. For example, research studies show that EMFs can suppress the pineal gland’s secretion of melatonin at night. Melatonin is a critical hormone that regulates our daily wake/sleep cycles, and is also one of our body’s strongest natural cancer fighting chemicals. Reduced melatonin levels are linked to increased risks for several types of cancer, suppression of the immune system, sleep problems, depression and psychological disorders.*
16) How to Establish a “Safe Haven” Location
Many people find relief by creating a special “safe haven” room or section of their home, where great care has been taken to reduce all the EMFs. In some cases, the electrical wiring, lights and appliances can be shielded, disconnected, or simply turned off to reduce the EMFs sufficiently. Other people build a separate shielded room outside with little or no electricity as a special place to retreat and rejuvenate. Some people move to a more remote location, to get further distance from cell towers, power lines and neighbors’ wireless devices. Some choose to live with little or no electricity for a certain period of time to help with their recovery. In most cases, it is critical to remove all wireless devices within about 300 feet of the home, and to stay at least a mile away from the nearest cell tower.*
17) What Do the Latest Research Studies Say?
Many thousands of studies have reported biological effects related to electromagnetic fields. But there is still great controversy about the potential health effects, especially for sensitive people. In the US, the health concerns about EMFs are still generally denied and ignored by the mainstream healthcare system – but they are becoming more widely accepted by alternative healthcare experts. In contrast, Sweden and some parts of Europe have taken formal steps to provide special care for EMF-sensitive individuals.*
* Important Notice:
Please note that I am not a medical doctor or certified health practitioner, and I cannot diagnose or treat any EMF-related health problems. Please refer to your own doctor or other health care professional for specific guidance and treatment regarding any EMF sensitivity issues and related health symptoms. The information shared here is intended for educational purposes only, and is based upon my 30 years of professional anecdotal experience with highly sensitive clients.